Across the globe, it’s common to hear these statements spoken among small business owners:

“The economy…it just tanked”
“The customers aren’t there anymore”
“I simply can’t compete with larger retailers

In today’s business climate, more businesses are blaming everything from the economy to the weather.

But closer inspection often reveals an internal problem, rather than an external or environmental one.

Most businesses grow until inertia sets in:

When the business stays at this plateau, it will soon find itself outpaced by the competition. By refusing to innovate, they quickly lose their competitive advantage.

Which Competitive Advantage?

To recover their competitive edge, some businesses slash their prices to beat the competition. Using a cost competitive advantage only works if you can provide the same quality of goods, and still have a healthy profit margin.

Other competitive advantages that businesses can use include:

  • Differentiation – Often used by luxury brands to differentiate their product from the competition.
  • Agility – This is the capability of being flexible in the face of any market changes.
  • Customer Service – Obtained by being super-responsive to customer needs, requests and communications.
  • Innovation – Attained by being able to constantly create a stream of creative products and services.

It’s easy to look at these and think they can only be used by larger firms, but small businesses can take a cue from them too. For example, if you choose to pursue a customer service advantage, one way to excel at it is to encourage customers to contact you on social media. This allows real-time monitoring of your brand mentions, and allows you reply immediately.

As an eCommerce business owner, customer satisfaction is crucial. Your competitive advantage is best derived from focusing on the elements of the fulfillment process that affect the customer directly i.e. accurate picking and delivery.

You’ll be glad to know that no retailer has perfectly mastered this, yet. Even the mighty Amazon still juggles multiple fulfillment methods.

Order Fulfillment as your Competitive Advantage

Order Fulfillment Center

I bet you don’t have Amazon’s budget, so how can you compete and gain a competitive edge?

The answer lies in making your order fulfillment as efficient as possible; and the best way to do this, is to use an order fulfillment company. Now, I know you can pick, pack and ship from your office, but remember, the keyword is “doing it efficiently.”

Finding a reliable fulfillment partner isn’t an easy task, there are currently 2.5 million results for the term ‘Choosing an Order Fulfillment Company’ in Google.

Would you rather trawl through those pages, than contact Floship today for a quick chat?

Let’s Play 10 Questions

Ecommerce Fulfillment Center What to Know

Regardless of your decision, here are ten questions to ask the logistics provider to ensure they can actually help your business gain an edge:

  1. Is the company in the right geographic region to serve your customers efficiently?
  2. The amount of storage space you’ll need will vary from month-to-month. Is the company flexible enough to meet the changing nature of your business?
  3. Do they have management software that integrates with your current shopping cart?
  4. Do they guarantee accurate picking and packing? What measures are in place to rectify any mistakes that occur?
  5. Will the company process and issue refunds on your behalf?
  6. Do they provide a system where customers can adjust their orders online?
  7. Does the company have minimum and maximum volumes that they can handle?
  8. Does the company offer any value added services, such as kitting, assembly and printing?
  9. Will they help you get the best shipping prices possible?
  10. Can they guarantee that your products will reach your customers in the time stated?

These ten ‘simple’ questions can help you identify fulfillment providers that are committed to seeing your business grow.

Choosing the right provider is a sure-fire way to gain a competitive edge in your market. You can cut costs while still delivering products efficiently, leading to a higher customer retention rate. Win.Win.Win

Read more: How to Avoid a Holiday Fulfillment Nightmare